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Are Hospital Parking Fees a Health Issue?

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CMAJ Calls for Abolishing Hospital Parking Fees

In an editorial in the most recent Canadian Medial Association Journal, editor in chief Dr. Rajendra Kale admonishes that parking fees interfere with patient/doctor interactions. He writes:

Almost every hospital doctor in Canada would be able to narrate anecdotes of patients being preoccupied with parking fees. Such distraction interferes with the clinical consultation. For example, some patients (who have often waited several weeks to see a doctor) try to end a consultation abruptly when they realize that they will have to pay for an additional hour for parking. This is parking-centred health care, which is not compatible with patient-centred health care.

Kale cites the 2008 decision that abolished parking fees at NHS hospitals in Scotland. The change was made on compassionate grounds and affirmed the country’s principle of universal access to health care. Shortly afterward, Wales made the same change, for similar reasons.

Arguing for ending the practice of charging for parking at Canadian hospitals, Kale writes,

Those opposed to scrapping parking fees for patients need to recognize that such fees are, for all practical purposes, user fees and a barrier to health care. Using revenue generated from such surrogate user fees for health care is against the health policy objective of the Canada Health Act and could become the subject of a legal challenge.

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First photo from bkornprobst via morgueFile; second photo from Arnold C via Wikimedia Commons

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46 comments

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6:42PM PST on Dec 9, 2011

All these paid parking lot schemes are a racket!

5:57PM PST on Dec 3, 2011

i work as a delivery driver for a sandwich shop near a big medical center consisting of tons of hospitals and specialists. all day i have to park in parking garages and lots that charge you by the time you spent parked there. it always saddens me when im driving out of the cancer centers parking lot, seeing all these sick people having to dig around for yet more money to pay to just leave the parking lot...so sad

9:28AM PST on Dec 3, 2011

Hospital parking fees suck!

7:28AM PST on Dec 3, 2011

At some hospitals, it is a private company that is looking after the parking. Most of the revenue is not even going to the hospital.

4:01PM PST on Dec 2, 2011

I agree that patients shouldn't have to worry about parking fees, but charging money for parking is completely normal, so it's not really that weird or anything that they do it. But, maybe there should be a special free parking for patients and a normal parking with a reasonable fee for visitors and such or something?

2:44PM PST on Dec 2, 2011

I have many health problems, and go to the doctor/hospital several times a month, often 2-3 times in one week. Repeatedly, I have had to reschedule appointments with my cardiologist, family practice doctor, etc. because I didn't have money to pay for parking. It's reprehensible.

7:15PM PST on Dec 1, 2011

thanks

11:30AM PST on Dec 1, 2011

Thanks for posting.

12:30AM PST on Dec 1, 2011

Up until 2008, I worked at a hospital in Arlington Virginia. The hospital had recently built a new hospital tower on the old employee's parking lot. For a time, there was talk that employees were going to be charged to park in the new underground parking garage. The fees being proposed were not insignificant. The idea was scrapped after much protest. It is, however, not uncommon for hospitals to charge their employees to park. Most of the Washington, DC hospitals do routinely. Hospitals are nothing more now than businesses that care more about their bottom line than the welfare of either their employees or their patients. They literally almost killed me when I was forced out of my job along with 55 other Emergency Department employees (all RN's except 3. ) A new manager was hired with the apparent goal of eliminating the older, higher paid employees. I was so stressed out by the whole thing and the ramifications of losing my job that I was having major heart palpitations and had to seek medical care for same. I never was able to find another job and am, technically, still unemployed which I suspect is a result of my age - 58. Age discrimination - Illegal but happens every day. My opinion of hospitals in general and medicine as it is practiced in this country is very low. We need a national health program.

12:30AM PST on Dec 1, 2011

Up until 2008, I worked at a hospital in Arlington Virginia. The hospital had recently built a new hospital tower on the old employee's parking lot. For a time, there was talk that employees were going to be charged to park in the new underground parking garage. The fees being proposed were not insignificant. The idea was scrapped after much protest. It is, however, not uncommon for hospitals to charge their employees to park. Most of the Washington, DC hospitals do routinely. Hospitals are nothing more now than businesses that care more about their bottom line than the welfare of either their employees or their patients. They literally almost killed me when I was forced out of my job along with 55 other Emergency Department employees (all RN's except 3. ) A new manager was hired with the apparent goal of eliminating the older, higher paid employees. I was so stressed out by the whole thing and the ramifications of losing my job that I was having major heart palpitations and had to seek medical care for same. I never was able to find another job and am, technically, still unemployed which I suspect is a result of my age - 58. Age discrimination - Illegal but happens every day. My opinion of hospitals in general and medicine as it is practiced in this country is very low. We need a national health program.

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